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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Core Web Programming (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Marty Hall, Larry Brown
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Comprehensive, resourceful, and candid

[Note: I was one of the technial reviewers of this book]
Executive Summary:
Core Web Programming is the Java / Web programming book to buy if you want to learn about HTML, Java, CGI, or JavaScript. The Java chapters and examples are excellent and could be a book in themselves. There are many cheap Java / Web "books" out there -- this is *not* one of them. Core Web Programming was written by a professional, for professionals.
Target Audience:
Web developers who want to learn about putting content on the Web via HTML, CGI, and JavaScript and by programmers who are looking for a good introduction to Java. The book is designed for professional self-study, but could be used a as companion text in classroom environment.
Technical Content:
Superb. Without a doubt. The book contains everything you need to know to build masterful web pages from the simplest to those incorporating advanced features like frames, cascading style sheets, font properties, and dynamic pages with JavaScript. Java programming is presented both for use in web pages and by programmers who want to apply it to industrial strength applications.
Up to date. Presents the latest in Java 1.1 with an explanation of changes from Java 1.02. Explains HTML 3.2 and how the HTML standard has evolved. Includes side topics often left unmentioned like network security and threads.
Marty's (200+) examples are pure gold. To the beginner, the examples are clear explanations of how to do something. To the advanced hacker, the examples are full of excellent style, techniques, and paradigms that may take more time to master. Marty clearly argues that Java is not just a Web programming language, but a full strength (albeit young) language ripe for many applications. The chapters on graphical programming in Java, (chapters 9-13), especially the chapter on layout managers, are the best I have seen on the subject.
Author's Style:
Marty is a trained computer scientist, not a full-time technical writer. The material he presents is based on years of experience and and teaching and is not a mere reference guide.
The book does not assume a background in C/C++/Java syntax or object-oriented programming which are surveyed in chapters 7-8. The graphical examples are often demonstrated on several platforms, so whether you are using a Mac, PC, or UNIX box, and regardless of what browser you prefer, this book is written for you. Marty is unassuming and carefully but not laboriously explains concepts with frequent examples. The tables on HTML syntax (in chapters 1-3) will serve as a good reference for those learning HTML. Marty also does a good job explaining programming with threads (chapter 14), a topic that many authors present poorly or with many mistakes. The book is filled with both a subtle humor (see the spell-correcting textfield example), and some apt, Dilbert (TM) strips.
Core Web Programming was designed to cover all aspects of programming on the Web, -- in one book! Why buy one book on HTML, another on CGI, others on Java and JavaScript, and so on?
About the Reviewer:
I have had the pleasure of working with Marty for 6 years at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and I consider him a remarkable computer scientist, programmer and communicator. I have observed the many late hours Marty devoted to the book and I believe the result is excellent. I also teach courses at Johns Hopkins in the Java and C++ languages and as a professional software developer and instructor, I give the book my strongest endorsement.
Paul McNamee

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: MCAD/MCSD Self-Paced Training Kit: Developing Windows-Based Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and Microsoft Visual C# .NET
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Corporation
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Just right.

There is a bunch of material that can be used to prepare for 70-316. For example, a lot of the information in this book can be found in the MSDN library. But I am sure you would first want to get a feel of what this brand new exam is like. You would want to get a summary of the .NET Windows Applications paradigm, a summary that is dense and gets to the point. This book did just that for me. For my level of preparation, this book turned out to be a good choice.
As I started reading this two-language book, I soon got used to identifying the mistakes committed by those who wrote the C# code by copying and pasting the VB code and then changing the keywords. I'm talking about missed semicolons and such. I got disappointed here and there when a topic that was mentioned in the index of the lesson was not discussed anywhere in its body. Take "multicultural test data" for example, in chapter 5, lesson 3.
Apart from that, the book has managed quite well to lead me through the most important topics of the exam. As I got used to the concepts, I was able to ask the right questions in newsgroups and do refined searches in the vast MSDN library. I found the sample exam included in the book very useful since I was relying on it more and more as the exam date approached.
Considering my two years experience with Windows Applications using VC++ 6.0 I passed 70-316 and I don't think I needed anything else besides or instead of this book.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: C++ Primer (4th Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Stanley B. Lippman, Josée Lajoie, Barbara E. Moo
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Good for the pro, not for a novice!

I've been using this book to teach a course in C++ and OOP, and my students have almost unanimously panned it -- poorly organized, hard to follow examples, topics spread out over many different parts of the book. I myself found it to be not a bad reference, particularly if you're already somewhat familiar with the language and/or concepts, but it's definitely NOT a book one could use to learn the language themselves (see SAM's C++ in 21 days or the Waite Group Primer instead!)

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Official Final Fantasy VII Strategy Guide
Publisher: Bradygames
Authors: David Cassady
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
it hurts to look at this guide

I love FF7 so much. I beat the game once and I am running through the game a second time to explore all of the secrets, but this time I need the strategy guide, not the p.c. only version, because I hate looking at that one. When I have first seen the playstation only version of the strategy guide, it was so cool, that I could spends hours looking at it. Now, the p.c. version BLOWS. Those cheap pictures are all BLACK AND WHITE. The book is also smaller and is so dull that I would never like to look in it. This makes my really angry. The reason for that is because I was looking for the original FF7 strategy guide for the playstation at all of the stores all over town and they didnt have it AT ALL. DARN! All they had were the dull p.c. only guides which are cheap and really gets me angry!!!!!! Now the p.c. only version will only be the official FF7 strategy guide which will be available, and the wonderful playstation only version will never be sold anYMORE!!!! How could Brady Guides mess this one up?! I WANT THE ORIGINAL PLAYSTATION ONLY VERSION AVAILABLE AT STORES AGAIN, AND I DONT CARE IF THE P.C. VERSION IS MORE UPDATED!!!!!!! I am really depressed.